This made me laugh:
(Full (but not that interesting) shot after the jump.)
Sez the inbox:
My sister, who's a psychotherapist, is moving full-time into private practice (she used to be half-time at a settlement house). She's wondering how to run her business, such as it is, in a socially responsible fashion.
For her, this is, at root, an ethical question. How much of her time should be offered pro bono? Is there anything beyond basic professional ethics she should be thinking about in terms of her treatment of clients? What about environmental concerns? Et cetera. And, for extra credit, one of the things that she's thinking about long-term is starting a network of socially responsible human service professionals. What would be the organizing principles for such a group?
No answering if you've heard it before. Just wink knowingly, and we'll all give you credit for being clever without actually wrecking the fun for the whole group. And don't look it up either, you sneaky cheat. I see you.
THE SCENARIO: Tropical island, ukelele soundtrack, white sands, and a whiff of blood-thirst. Striped shirts and peg-legs.
There are five pirates and a hundred pieces of gold. The first pirate will propose a plan for dividing up the gold amongst the pirates, and everyone will vote on it. If it passes, they will divvy up the gold according to his plan.
If it fails, they will kill him, and the second pirate will propose a plan, which will be voted on. If it passes (by a strict majority; ties means it fails), he lives and they divvy up the gold. If it fails, they kill him and the third pirate gets to propose a plan. And so on, until a plan passes.
Pirates operate by three rules, in order of priority:
1. Pirates want to live.
2. Pirates want gold.
3. Pirates like to see other pirates die.
So what is the first pirate's proposal?
First one to derive a solution wins a big hug! From Will! And note: if this puzzle is too easy for you roomful of monkeys, I have one - solamente uno - harder puzzle up my sleeve.
AWB has a post up about being dropped unexpectedly by a guy she was dating; if you read her comments and other blogs, it's a fairly common experience. It brought back some memories of the theories I developed about what the social rules were for dating back when I was doing it the last time, as a college student in the early 90's. These theories were obviously highly unreliable, as being based on a very small n, and they make very little global sense. But I bought into them, as being a better explanation of the experiences I was having than anything else I could come up with, and believing them certainly helped keep me from being involved with anyone for most of the time in which I was in theory available to date.
The basic principle was that in the eyes of most guys in my social circle (including very decent pleasant men I was otherwise friends with), there were two possible roles for a woman they'd had any sexual/romantic interaction with: girlfriend, meaning something really quite intense and committed; or social non-person, to whom no ordinary principles of friendly social interaction applied. A woman in the second category - that is, someone who the guy had slept with or made out with but where they hadn't decided it was true love instantly and moved into each other's dorm rooms - attempting to initiate any further social contact was doing something presumptuous and bizarre, borderline stalkery, to be reacted to with confused disdain, kind of like you'd react to a homeless person who sat down next to you on a park bench and asked for a bite of your sandwich.
There were a couple of auxiliary results of this: first, that men playing by these rules weren't particularly strongly motivated by sex. Steady sex with a girlfriend was desirable; random sex with social non-persons was also desirable; but being willing to interact socially in a friendly civil way with a woman who had already demonstrated a willingness to have sex with them, and was showing interest in doing it again sometime, was too high a price to pay to get laid - maintaining the social disdain was vastly more important. Second, that a guy playing by these rules would generally end a beginning or even reasonably long-standing boyfriend/girlfriend relationship by without any obvious transition moving the woman into the second category, and suddenly being puzzled about why she would think that he would have any reason to return phone calls, or speak to her in public.
Now, I can't have been right that this is actually what was going on in anyone's head, much less most of the men in my college-age social circle; it's just what I came up with after a couple of interactions like the one AWB and Megan describe. But as someone both reluctant to jump immediately into serious commitment, and highly sensitive to social insult, believing these were the rules I was stuck with kept me largely celibate in college. I punctuated my celibacy by occasionally sleeping with men I didn't like particularly, which allowed the desire to avoid each other later to be mutual, and with occasional short attempts to date men I actually liked, which generally ended with getting dropped cold after a fairly short time. Eh. None of this is my problem any more, and I was almost certainly misinterpreting it all at the time. Puzzled the heck out of me, though.
Were I in a metropolitan region more major than mine, I'd be going to see the movie Trumbo tonight. It's a documentary about the life of Dalton Trumbo, one of the "Hollywood Ten" screenwriters who was imprisoned and exiled during the blacklist. I saw the play on which it was based a few years ago and it did a powerful job of showing the impact of the HUAC hearings on one man and his family. The script was assembled by his son from letters his father wrote to him during that time, ranging from funny to heartfelt, and the quality of his writing shows the talent of the man who was silenced. So if you're in New York or LA or Seattle, go see it for me and report back.
...because his web site offers me a chance to play "Pork Invaders."
Eric at Edge of the American West has made a bumper sticker out of the Cala-Eric coauthored "Get disappointed by someone new: Obama 08." There's no better time to announce your slightly optimistic resignation.
First, some background...
Since taking my current job in 2004, I've always used my paid time off for gigs and band-related travel, leaving my time-off balance hovering always right around zero. As a result, I haven't taken a proper vacation in over four years, and the accumulated stress is catching up.
Fast forward to a recent bonus I was awarded at work. In lieu of money, I requested the bonus in the form of time off, a request which was honored (huzzah!). Apparently, the boss has noticed I'm stressed, too, and is now urging me to take the time ASAP while things are slow.
So, now it's last-minute vacation-planning time. Except I haven't really been thinking about travel, and I need destinations. Relaxing ones.
For example, Tom's recent trip looks appealing, and eekbeat and I already did some preliminary airfare hunting. It's do-able. But what else is a good spot? Where have you been? How was it?
- We're looking at mid-August, so time's a factor.
- We've got about a week to play with.
- The primary goal is just to relax, but obviously we'd like some other stuff to do. But not too much. We don't want to feel overwhelmed or feel like chumps for failing to see every last museum or historical landmark.
- A beach of some sort seems obligatory, but I'm open to just about anything.
- Flying's okay, but we're hoping for airfare under ~$500
- Accomodations needn't be Hiltonesque, but we'd like something a bit nicer than your average $5/night hostel (which are great! don't get me wrong! but I'm old now).
Thanks in advance for your suggestions. I promise to think of all of you when I'm splayed out on the sand.
This is a site that I started reading last year, when Jen was in the middle of a surrogate pregnancy for a gay couple. She and her husband have two kids, and she has a very clear voice for parenting, which I totally admire. (The surrogate pregnancy, while not the point of this post, is interesting in its own right. FAQs are here, here, and here for starters.)
Anyway, their oldest son is Joseph. Meet Joseph! Isn't he great? Lovable kid.
Back when Jen and her husband were first married, they decided to be foster care parents. Out of this, they ended up adopting Joseph. Right now she's halfway through telling the story of how they came to adopt Joseph out of the foster care system, and it's totally riveting.
Warning - this is long. But easily breakable into installments, and totally fascinating. So, now go read how they came to adopt him:
Baptism by fire
Adventures in Babysitting
We have a problem
Doctors, Social Workers, and Other Idiots
Taking him back
Investigation and Vindication
If you've read through those chapters, then I'm sure you're hooked. There are 7 more chapters currently written, but they're all in June, and readily clickable from her front page. There are 5 or 6 yet unwritten.
(Update: It is pretty confusing to find her homepage. Go to just the right link, above, and click on the word "Home", but don't double-click, the way my mom does on everything, because that's unnecessary. And the word "Home" might appear in more than one spot on the page. The best way to figure out which copy of the word to use is to systematically click on each one, from the bottom of the page to the top. E-mail me at email@example.com if you have any questions.)
Can't we cut some kind of a deal where he agrees not to say anything near a microphone until he's out of office, just so we don't have to keep cringing all the time? On the other hand, I suppose the more horrible Bush sounds, the worse McCain looks. So I'll cringe in a good cause.
A party game, via DCeiver:
Your instructions are as follows:
1. Take out your iPod (or Zune, I guess...really, who buys a Zune?)
2. Press shuffle songs.
3. Answer the following: a) How many songs before you come to one that would absolutely disqualify you from being President? b) What is that song?
4. Leave your answers.
Me: Butt Town by Iggy Pop, 6 shuffles
Really, "making eye babies" sounds hot. But these people need to invent optical buttsex to prevent "accidents."
Hey - my first post!
I'm going to join ogged temporarily in the land of no-blog. I'll be back sometime next week. Play nice with the new kids, now.
Yglesias notes this NYT profile of Obama's body man, Reggie Love. I did a double take when I read the name because he's pretty well-known here. Not so much for playing basketball at Duke, as he didn't really see much court time, but more for certain infamous photos.
(So maybe I've got too much time on my hands over summer break. So what.)
Let's say that this time, comments #6-15 get voting dibs. That way we can get the preliminary questions out of the way. The candidates are....
b. Foster Care-y
Update! Did we learn from our sins of yesterday? This time it was Adorable by a landslide.
This is one of my favorite fashion bloggers. Look how adorable she is!
Unfortunately, she writes in Crypto-cyrillico-nish.
In the spirit of New York politics, I'd like to share that I've been endlessly amused by the saga following Staten Island congressman Vito Fossella's confession that he has two families and likes to drive drunk. Right? Because then Republicans pawed around for a nominee and came up with rich old Frank Powers, who could at least fund his own campaign.
Then another Frank Powers entered the race. Because sometimes sons are named after their fathers, and then run against them for a congressional seat forty years later. But it turns out that Frank The Son doesn't get the libertarian nomination. So there is just one Frank Powers to keep track of.
Who ups and dies yesterday. Poor Republicans!
I've never understood New York State (or city) politics on any serious level; party ID seems to mean very little to the alliances and power relationships. And I've recently changed situations to one that gives me a hair more inside information about state politics, which has left me understanding them, if anything, less.
But one thing that's clear if you pay attention at all is that Joe Bruno, the Republican Senate Majority leader, wields a truly crazy amount of power. I don't know what New York State politics are going to look like now that he's retiring, but they'll be very different.
I've been really forgetful lately, to the point that I've had three major forgetfulness-related foulups in the last two weeks. Now, I'm a listmaker and calendarmaker and all that, but these days I've been flubbing things that defy even those remedies because they're so basic (like forgetting one needs to bring shoes to the gym). This bothers me because I like to think of myself as on top of things. When you feel yourself getting flaky, what do you do to de-flake?
Everyone is kicking around this
Roger Richard Cohen column that argues, more or less, that McCain's flip-flops don't matter that much because, when push came to shove, McCain didn't flip-flop with the North Vietnamese!
But here is the difference between McCain and Obama -- and Obama had better pay attention. McCain is a known commodity. It's not just that he's been around a long time and staked out positions antithetical to those of his Republican base. It's also -- and more important -- that we know his bottom line. As his North Vietnamese captors found out, there is only so far he will go, and then his pride or his sense of honor takes over. This -- not just his candor and nonstop verbosity on the Straight Talk Express -- is what commends him to so many journalists.
Obama might have a similar bottom line, core principles for which, in some sense, he is willing to die. If so, we don't know what they are. Nothing so far in his life approaches McCain's decision to refuse repatriation as a POW so as to deny his jailors a propaganda coup. In fact, there is scant evidence the Illinois senator takes positions that challenge his base or otherwise threaten him politically. That's why his reversal on campaign financing and his transparently false justification of it matter more than similar acts by McCain.
There are many things to object to here, of course, but one interesting issue has to do with the kind of character traits Cohen is attributing to McCain. I imagine the argument to be like this: McCain's resistance as a POW shows he has courage; if he has courage, he won't waver on certain matters of principle as President; therefore.... That is, the argument requires the claim that courage in one context predicts behavior in another.
Thanks in large part to John Doris and Gil Harman, a lot of philosophers are vaguely familiar with situationist psychologists who think that there's very little predictive value to our folk-psychological character concepts. As I understand it, one situationist theme is that (for example) courage as traditionally conceived is far too broad: someone might have courage-in-situation-x but fail to have courage-in-situation-y, and there's very little correlation between the two fine-grained traits. Hence we shouldn't expect courage-on-the-battlefield to predict courage-in-committee-meetings. But we do, and so are led into error. McCain is a really interesting example of the phenomenon just because both his courage and his failure to be courageous are on full public display.
This needs to be on the main page. Kobe, tell me how my ass tastes.
Power to the people! First five commenters vote on the topic! Your choices are:
Update: The votes are in, and Creepy kicked Adorable's ass. Adorable will go on to battle the next contestant in the next installment of Create-a-Post.
Creepiness under the cut!
Note: Somewhat NSFW. No nudity, but hey, she's not in her nightie in bed for nothing. Also, you can watch it with the sound off without losing anything.
Commercial for a phone. Via Sociological Images.
Yglesias points to some data showing that while big urban school systems look like they have bad results by national standards, when you break those results down demographically, kids in urban schools do about as well or slightly better as socioeconomically similar kids nationwide. (Well, the DC schools are apparently genuinely terrible.) The apparently lower performance is due to the fact that urban school systems just educate a much larger percentage of poor children, who tend to perform less well on standardized tests everywhere.
The personal implication of this, for a middle-class parent, is that hurting yourself economically to get your kids out of the dreadful urban schools looks to be pointless -- generally, your kids will do fine in city schools. Something I believe, although I haven't looked for data (actually working during working hours is time-consuming), is that the the sort of economic segregation you get when all the middle-class parents flee is terribly socially damaging. Anecdotally, people I know who moved from poor backgrounds where education wasn't valued to the professional upper middle class did it because they had a lot of social contact with kids from educated backgrounds: a kid knows they can do what their peers can do. It makes sense that isolating poor kids in schools where everyone is poor, whether or not it has all that much effect on the average scholastic achievement, is going to close off options for those kids in adult life. And from the other end, being isolated from anyone who isn't comfortably middle class is a great way to end up entitled and clueless: given that there don't seem to be substantial educational benefits to it, why increase the chance your kids will end up being twerps?
On the one hand, Stanford won the most recent Big Game and has won more of the total 110 Big Games than Cal has. On the other, Victoria's Secret is making garments for Cal.
Fine, Kieran: via Kieran.
When I was in college I dated a guy who drove a Honda, which he kept chock-full of trash, like a fast-food landfill. Like, smelly and ankle-deep with trash. Whenever he got in or out of his car, he littered one piece of litter, as a quasi fuck-you-world slash cleaning-out-the-ol'-jalopy! move.
The first time I saw him do it, he said, "I bet you're judging me." So I argued, "No, no, of course I'm not!" (Of course I was.) But at least he aired his awful parts right there off the bat. And his dirty laundry.
All this is to say that I would kind of like to make a really crappy horrible post, right here at the beginning, and then glare at you guys and say, "I bet you're judging me," just to get it over with. Then I would feel liberated to post whatever the hell I feel like.
This is not that post. This is a great post! But maybe it will come.
A while back I complained about mp3 audio quality. Most of your suggestions were pretty lame, but Sifu has found the answer to my prayers: better cable. A little pricey, but I take my listening as seriously as I take my playing, so I'm willing to pay for clean, vibrant sound. And as usual, the Amazon reviews are really helpful.
Ian McEwan despises Islamism. A bold stand against surging public support for the Islamic Republic of Britain:
As soon as a writer expresses an opinion against Islamism, immediately someone on the left leaps to his feet and claims that because the majority of Muslims are dark-skinned, he who criticises it is racist.
This is logically absurd and morally unacceptable. Martin is not a racist.
And I myself despise Islamism, because it wants to create a society that I detest, based on religious belief, on a text, on lack of freedom for women, intolerance towards homosexuality and so on - we know it well.
Poor Amis-- his innocuous musings have been misinterpreted:
'They used to be more evolved than us, but now we are more evolved than them.
'There is no inoffensive way to put this - by evolved, I mean more civilised. We have more respect for civil society.'
These remarks echo the controversial comments he made during an interview in 2006. On the subject of curbing terrorism, he said: 'There is a definite urge - don't you have it? - to say, "The Muslim community will have to suffer until it gets its house in order".
'Not letting them travel. Deportation - further down the road. Curtailing of freedoms. Strip-searching people who look like they're from the Middle East or from Pakistan. Discriminatory stuff, until it hurts the whole community and they start getting tough with their children.'
After running through a brief recounting of how The New Republic has been 100% wrong on just about every goddamned thing under the sun for the past decade, Greenwald renders an accurate and disheartening diagnosis.
By any metric, that is a humiliating track record. More importantly, it's a perfect museum exhibit to illustrate how the Democratic Party failed completely to provide any meaningful opposition to the extremism, excesses and abuses of the Bush years, instead enabling and endorsing those abuses when they weren't standing by meekly and quietly allowing it all to take root. Throughout the Bush era, the Democratic Party has been dominated by The New Republic Syndrome -- Democrats who are either petrified of meaningfully opposing the right-wing agenda that has dominated our country or who support virtually all of it, while eagerly volunteering to serve as the most vocal demonizers of those who want our country to have a real opposition party.
You really should read the rest to get the full impact of the utter uselessness of the Democratic Party this decade. Only the unprecedented, monumental malevolence of the current administration has kept me from turning my back on the Dems (well, that and the fact that the party still is home to the few remaining honorable politicians in DC, like my representative whom I wish would run for Senate already). Practically the entire record of the Democratic Party as a group over the past seven years is one misguided instance after another of "keeping their powder dry" in anticipation of a time when they held a stronger strategic position. By all indications, the Democratic Party will enter 2009 with the White House and significant majorities in both chambers of Congress. I'm soliciting odds on the following three predictions:
1. This pattern of behavior is so deeply ingrained in the Democrats that they will continue to quake in fear of a wildly unpopular party that just imploded under its own stupidity and hubris.
2. Despite a far weaker electoral position than the Democrats ever had to deal with, the GOP will have no problem behaving like an effective opposition party.
3. The GOP understands and is willing to demonstrate that "powder" is not a finite commodity that must be conserved and that, in fact, using your powder magically generates more powder.
It's contagious with possibly daily flare-ups.
(Courtesy of Megan (FTA))
George Carlin, 71. When he was on, he was on.
In an attempt to dispatch a ridiculous claim that sustainable organic sex toys could not be found on the internet (since, for the love of god, everything can be found on the internet), I managed to stumble across this NSFW link that wins the award for most ridiculous shit I've found by googling in a long time.
This is kind of neat. It's about carp. But in my mind, instead of thinking "carp", I've been thinking "crab", which isn't at all the same. Question: what do you think about instead of carp, in your mind?
I realized recently that my mother would be much easier for me to tolerate if she were less nice. Could be that being nice is not good without qualification; could be that I'm a terrible person; could be both.
Unrelated: Ilya Somin links an interesting study on religious academics:
The IJCR study shows that 66% of academics believe in God, while only 19% say that they don't. This is a fairly overwhelming majority of theists, even though smaller than the 93% of the general public who say they believe in God. Some 66% of academics (compared to about 85% of the general public) identify with a particular religious denomination such as Catholic, Evangelical, Jewish, or Muslim. With the important exception of Evangelical Christians (33% of the general public, but only 11% of academics), most major religious groups are represented among academics in roughly the same or higher proportions as in the general public.
I'm just browsing through the whole survey now, but it's got some interesting tidbits.
In honor of our founder, a swimming article that I actually found very compelling about the history of the dolphin kick.
A concerned parent asserts, without providing evidence. that:
Now that summer is upon us, inquiring parents need to know:
1. At what age can a child be left alone in the house?
2. For how long?
Just because he or she wants to know, that doesn't mean that all parents—even all inquiring parents—want to know! They could be inquiring about other matters.
As for the questions, I would certainly never deny that there are ages at which it wouldn't be advisable to leave a child alone in the house for a significant period of time (say, two years of), or that there are ages at which it is of course acceptable to do so, assuming a normal developmental career on the kid's part (say, fifteen). But I don't see that there's any particular highest age below which one shouldn't, or any particular lowest age above which one may, leave a child alone in the house. It will depend on the particulars.
To the motherfucker who went into my room during last night's party and stole $200 out of my purse: I hope you get an incurable infestation of crabs.